Manga Guide Book Review
Shy? Nervous? Lovestruck? These are only three of the forty moods that are wonderfully illustrated in Manga Moods by author and artist Saori Takarai. This very kawaii sized mini-book would make an ideal gift for any fellow otaku; although if you're an aspiring manga artist it's actually a very nice pocket reference book.
Unlike so many American step-by-step how-to draw manga books Takarai illustrates a single close up of each of her character's faces and then pushes their emotions to an extreme state. Most typical how-to books might show you happy or sad ó however the author takes this to the next level and gives us giddy and gloomy, confident and dumbstruck, and my personal favorites -- sneaky and and coy!
Another nice feature of this book is that the publisher took a great deal of care to make sure that the graphic design is very user friendly. Each page of this book presents a featured illustrated mood that also includes a Japanese translation of the word, and then two related catch phrases like Chotto! ("Hey!") and "Watashi no koto sukina no?" ("You like me?"). The result is a really nice bite-sized introduction to learning Japanese for any anime fan which is useful for impressing your fannish friends.
To see more examples of Saori Takarai's artwork you can visit her website and her Pixiv page.
Below: An illustration of irritable from Manga Moods.
Reviewed by Michael Pinto, March 2012
Manga! Manga! : The World of Japanese Comics
Manga Book Review
This intense study of the development of Manga and it's influence on Japanese society is still a treat to read even though this book was first published more than 20 years ago. Fred Schodt's close relationship with "manganokamisama" Osamu Tezuka allowed him a unqiue insight into a world where the comic book is read by everyone, in every walk of life, with no boundaries between class or status. In short, if you want to know about how manga (and anime) has become what it is, this book is a must-read. Schodt's depth of material is staggering, covering every aspect and genre of manga, and included are many samples of both male and female manga (men generally read action/adventure manga, while women prefer romance manga) and their various sub-genres.
Reviewed by Brian Cirulnick, May 2002
Manga: 60 Years of Japanese Comics
Manga Book Review
Until now, the only two substantive books about manga as a medium were Frederik L. Schodt's Manga! Manga! and Dreamland Japan. This recently published book is a thoughtful analysis of the manga phenomenon as a whole and covers everything from Osamu Tezuka to current works, and manga's emerging role as a global influence and the major cultural export of Japan.
The opulently printed artwork and the thoughtful, historically and culturally accurate discussions of the social, aesthetic, and political background of manga make this an important book to own for any anime and manga fan. Get this!
Reviewed by Brian Cirulnick, January 2005
Rising Stars of Manga
Manga Book Review
This book is a result of the “Rising Stars of Manga contest” which was sponsored by TokyoPop. We have to admit that at first we didn’t have much hope for a collection of manga drawn by gaijin! However this collection had a few nice surprises, and would be well worth adding to your comic book collection. The volume features quite a bit of good storytelling and artwork, and there is that special bonus of knowing that you may be looking at the work of a future Tezuka (well we can always hope).
Postscript: The above mini-review was from 2003 — little did we know then that this series would run for serveral issues (volume 5 is below) and would launch several careers for a few lucky artists. Although sadly TokyoPop is no longer with us...
Reviewed by Brian Cirulnick, September 2003
Adult Manga: Culture and Power in Contemporary Japanese Society
Manga Book Review
Most Americans have absolutely NO IDEA how influential manga is on the social, political and economic fabric of modern Japanese society. This book examines an aspect of this culture — the commercial industry of mass-communication via the cartoon, how manga is produced, and how the industry churns out product, often to the detriment of creativity.
For those fascinated by how the manga publishing business works, this book is an inside-out look at one of the driving forces of contemporary Japanese culture.
Reviewed by Brian Cirulnick, July 2005
Manga Guide to the Universe
Book Review by Brian Cirulnick
The universe is big. Really, really, big. You just won't believe how vastly, hugely, mind-bogglingly big it is. I mean, you might think it's a long walk to the local comic-book store, but that's just peanuts compared to the universe...
Ok, Douglas Adams is probably turning over in his grave and his estate is probably preparing, at this very moment, to sue the stuffing out of me, but I just couldn't help myself.
The story revolves around three students who develop an interest in the Universe after listening to a Japanese folktale about a girl from the Moon. The girls enlist Kanta, an astronomy major, to teach them more about the Universe. The Manga Guide to the Universe begins with an overview of how ancient cultures thought about and studied the Sun, Moon, and stars, coupled with an overview of important astronomical work by Copernicus, Galileo, and other seminal astronomers.
Kanta explains how our solar system works; how we calculate distance in space; the Big Bang Theory (not the CBS sitcom); and theories about the Universe's evolution and cosmic expansion. You'll explore the Milky Way, faraway galaxies, supernovas, quasars, and black holes, as well as the history of space exploration, including the Moon landing, the launch of the International Space Station, and the Hubble Space Telescopeóall with the aid of original Manga cartoons.
This latest effort from No Starch Press is also the greatest, as the universe and manga go together like chocolate and peanut butter... Mmmmmmmm.
Reviewed by Brian Cirulnick, June 2011
The Manga Guide to Calculus
Manga Book Review
I admit I never did that well in High School. I suffered through algebra, and never figured out trigonometry. And this is why I found the Manga Guide to Calculus an amazing and enlightening read.
What this book does better than any calculus book I have ever seen is give a context to the processes and concepts. The story line is enjoyable, but more importantly it serves the function of enabling a reader to understand how the mathematics help solve problems or answer questions that are useful and relatable.
This is math being applied to everyday concepts where you wouldn't ordinarily expect calculus to come in handy -- and yet it does! Noriko is just getting started as a junior reporter for the Asagake Times. She wants to cover the hard-hitting issues, like world affairs and politics, but does she have the smarts for it? Thankfully, her overbearing and math-minded boss, Mr. Seki, is here to teach her how to analyze her stories with a mathematical eye.
Whether you're struggling through a calculus course for the first time or you just need a painless refresher, you'll find what you're looking for in The Manga Guide to Calculus.
And remember, calculus is used *everywhere* in the real-world, so, don't sigh heavily and proclaim you'll never use this. It's not just for rocket scientists, calculus is being used heavily in the financial industry, and those are the people getting rich!
So, we at anime.com recommend this, and remember, when you're a billionaire, remember us little people!
Reviewed by Brian Cirulnick, April 2011
The Manga Guide to Electricity
Manga Book Review
Of all the things in this smart-cell-phone-enabled, twitterized, facebook'ed, blogged, mobile-computing, anime-watching world, nothing, *NOTHING* is more important than electricity. It literally runs everything you use to get through a normal day. Wouldn't it be nice if you knew *something* about this precious resource, as we move towards clean, green, renewable sources of energy and the world looks toward carbon-nanotube ultra-capacitors or hydrogen fuel cells as battery replacements?
Without trying to turn Anime.com into the front page of Slashdot or Gizmodo, we present The Manga Guide to Electricity, which aside from being a great manga to read, will actually learn ya' enough to make a pretty decent science fair project, or at least understand enough to debate the pros and cons of an Obama energy plan.
The book starts with an overview of the physical nature of electricity, a description of positive and negative charge, and the units used to measure electricity including the difference between current flow (amperage) and current force (volts). It introduces electricity in the many forms we use and experience daily, including static electricity, direct current as found in flashlights, and electrical circuits such as one finds in buildings. It introduces Ohm's law, the basic relationship between current flow, current force, and the resistance of the electrical conductor.
But it does it all couched in the warm fuzziness of a well-thought-out, cleverly drawn, fun to read manga. Wouldn't it be nice if all our school textbooks were done this way?
Reviewed by Brian Cirulnick, October 2009